Tonight’s Iowa debate on Fox will serve two purposes, which, in the event, are at cross-purposes with each other, one for those participating and one for the Obama campaign. The Republican candidates need to fire up their base in advance of the Ames straw poll this weekend. But, in an age when everything is videotaped, the candidates risk firing up the base by staking out extreme positions – it is the way you stand out on a stage with seven other people – and their statements could easily become campaign fodder for Democratic ads next year.
Over at Swampland, the always readable Amy Sullivan offers her take on Gov. Perry's Prayerfest. Read the whole thing but the key takeaway is this:
Jon Chait at the New Republic has a more detailed look at what did, and did not, drive yesterday's results in the Wisconsin special election. It is well worth the read.
According to a new poll from CNN, only 33 percent of Americans approve of the Republican Party while 59 percent disapprove. That is a ten point drop from June.
At the same time, the Democratic brand slightly improved its standing with 47% approving and the same number disapproving of the Democratic Party. In June, 45 percent of those asked approved of the Dems and 49% disapproved.
What is most surprising here is that anyone approves of either party.
The results from the special elections in Wisconsin were decidedly mixed yesterday. Six Republican state senators were subject to a recall election and four survived the ordeal. In two districts, the Democrats won the seats back, but the GOP maintained control of the state senate.
The vote was, mostly, a referendum on Gov. Scott Walker and specifically his union busting legislation that passed after much acrimony earlier this year. More than $30 million dollars were spent on the special elections, which must be some kind of record for state legislative races. That is a lot of ads, a lot of messages, and so it is difficult to say that this one message or another triumphed over the others, especially when the results were so mixed.
Mark Silk perceives the danger for Rick Perry that I do: By hosting, not merely attending, a prayer meeting that was not, in the American civic tradition, inclusive of many faiths, he has set himself up as "pastor-in-chief" a position that contrasts neatly with that pushed by Mitt Romney. That is a debate I want to watch.
Here is another word in the new translation of the Roman Missal that has been causing some degree of consternation: "consubstantial." We received in our Sunday bulletin last week some information on why this word is replacing "one in being with the Father" in the Creed we recite at Mass on Sundays. The information is fine, even useful, pointing out that "consubstantial" is more precise than the phrase it replaces.
But, I would go further. It is true that many, perhaps most, of the people in the pews do not know the word "consubstantial" but I am also guessing that most people in the pews do not know exactly what is meant by "one in being with the Father." Unless you took a college course in Greek philosophy, such concepts may be opaque.
If you grew up playing the trombone, as I did, one of your favorite college "fight songs" to play was "On Wisconsin." The lively song is also the state song of Wisconsin.
Today, there are special recall elections in the Badger State for six state senators. The recall efforts were mounted after the showdown in the state legislature over Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's union busting efforts last winter.
Midterm elections are always difficult to predict, especially when they occur in the middle of August. What is likely to be tested today is not the sentiment of the majority, but the organizing capacity of the opposing sides and, to a degree, the relative degrees of outrage among the respective bases of the two parties. If you are reading this, and you are a registered voter in Wisconsin, be sure to make your voice heard. And if you are Catholic and in Wisconsin, be sure to stand with the Church in its long history of support for the right to organize and its support for organized labor. In other words, maybe we should "plunge left through that line!"
There is nothing an opposition researcher likes better than a video clip that shows an opponent speaking on a topic in a deeply personal manner, and evidencing how profoundly committed he is to a given position, but which, in the event, the candidate has now flipped on.
Salon has just such a video clip from a 1994 debate in which Mitt Romney spoke about how traumatized he was in the 1960s when a close relative died after procuring an illegal abortion.
President Obama’s midday speech did not have its desired, immediate effect of calming the markets. They tanked anyway. Words will no longer suffice to end the skittishness of the markets. But, the president did say something that was consequential yesterday. He announced that in the next few weeks, he would present a proposal to address the next round of budget negotiations, mandated by last week’s agreement to raise the debt ceiling.